According to a US Department of Defense audit from September, the US Army failed to keep track of more than $1 billion worth of weapons, Humvees, and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait.
This mass of equipment, which may now be in ISIS hands, was destined for the central Iraqi Army.
The arms transfers fell under the ITEF (Iraq Train and Equip Fund), which in 2015 received $1.6 billion in federal funding to combat ISIS.
The DoD audit reveals a serious failure to adequately log and monitor equipment; some information was even recorded in the form of handwritten receipts.
The Iraqis’ stockpile monitoring procedures were even worse. In some cases, the Iraqi Army didn’t even know what it was storing in its own warehouses. Boxes of valuable and dangerous military equipment were uninventoried and stored out in the open.
“This audit provides a worrying insight into the US Army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous – system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” says Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher.
Wilcken points out the long history of leakage of US arms to enemies (including ISIS), and urges anyone supplying arms to Iraq to make sure post-delivery checks and controls are in place.
This isn’t the first time Amnesty’s research has revealed surprisingly lax controls and record keeping within the Iraqi military. This bad habit has resulted in American-made weapons ending up in the hands of ISIS and other groups known to be committing atrocities in the Middle East.
Amnesty has asked the US to comply with laws designed to stop arms transfers that could fuel atrocities.
“Sending millions of dollars’ worth of arms into a black hole and hoping for the best is not a viable counter-terrorism strategy,” says Wilcken.
According to a report published Saturday in The Washington Post, the Pentagon has overbilled the US military for fuel by nearly $6 billion over the past seven years. Those extra funds were used to reinforce underfunded or mismanaged defense programs.
Editor’s note: This is not unique situation. At one point the Iraqi armed forces fled during combat with ISIS forces, leaving hundreds of Humvees and support equipment that was quickly absorbed by the terrorist organization. I bet ISIS sends Obama a thank you card every Christmas.